Short video on Manufacturing Consent, seminal work on mainstream journalism and its role in the mechanics of power.
According to Chomsky, media operate through five filters: ownership, advertising, the media elite, flak and the common enemy.
The first has to do with ownership. Mass media firms are big corporations. Often, they are part of even bigger conglomerates. Their end game? Profit. And so it’s in their interests to push for whatever guarantees that profit. Naturally, critical journalism must take second place to the needs and interests of the corporation.
The second filter exposes the real role of advertising. Media costs a lot more than consumers will ever pay. So who fills the gap? Advertisers. And what are the advertisers paying for? Audiences. And so it isn’t so much that the media are selling you a product — their output. They are also selling advertisers a product — YOU.”
3 THE MEDIA ELITE
The establishment manages the media through the third filter. Journalism cannot be a check on power because the very system encourages complicity. Governments, corporations, big institutions know how to play the media game. They know how to influence the news narrative. They feed media scoops, official accounts, interviews with the ‘experts’. They make themselves crucial to the process of journalism. So, those in power and those who report on them are in bed with each other.
If you want to challenge power, you’ll be pushed to the margins. When the media – journalists, whistleblowers, sources – stray away from the consensus, they get ‘flak’. This is the fourth filter. When the story is inconvenient for the powers that be, you’ll see the flak machine in action discrediting sources, trashing stories and diverting the conversation.
5 THE COMMON ENEMY
To manufacture consent, you need an enemy — a target. That common enemy is the fifth filter. Communism. Terrorists. Immigrants. A common enemy, a bogeyman to fear, helps corral public opinion.